Derek Pain: No Pain, No Gain

On the Plus side, Mears leads way with dual listing

Mears, the support services group that joined the No Pain, No Gain portfolio in March, has achieved a significant first by listing its shares on both the London Stock Exchange's main market and Plus, the upstart trading platform that is becoming an increasingly important part of the investment scene.

Until this week, its shares were traded on AIM, the LSE's junior market, with a secondary presence on Plus. With a capitalisation of £200m, it was felt elevation from AIM to full listing would create more interest in the shares and enhance the group's profile. But chairman Bob Holt was reluctant to cut the connection with Plus. After all, what is still regarded as a fringe market has accounted for some 10 per cent of Mears' share trading this year. On the first day of the dual dealing, Plus volume was 95,000 compared to 378,000 on the main market. Closing mid-prices were different with Plus at 296p against the LSE's 290p.

I believe more companies will be enticed by the dual-listing idea. For years, the LSE enjoyed a near monopoly. But the times they are a-changin'. The growing strength of Plus is not the only threat it faces.

Within the next year the powerful institution-backed Turquoise trading facility is likely to materialise, and on the small-cap front ShareMark (part of AIM and Plus-traded The Share Centre) and the JP Jenkins unquoted market (run by AIM-traded IAF) are already established.

Still it is Plus, formerly known as Ofex, that has so far emerged as the leading domestic challenger to the LSE. Make no mistake, it is still a hugely one-sided contest, with the LSE dwarfing the little upstart. Regulatory changes last year were designed to encourage more competition in the share trading business and Plus is taking advantage of the new climate.

I understand that it will soon welcome a major new addition that may solo on Plus or, like Mears, embrace a dual listing.

I am not convinced that the new, more competitive trading environment will benefit the small investor. Dealing costs may be reduced for the share-trading community but I doubt the reductions will filter through to those undertaking a modest deal. On most fronts, charges are increasing. I have commented many times on the City's near-contempt for the private investor, particularly those who want to retain paper share certificates. In some cases they have to pay dearly for the paper privilege.

I am also unhappy about the way some companies seek to switch shareholders to online communications. The investor wishing to retain the right to receive documents by post has to make an application. Surely those who want to change and embrace the internet should be required to endure the effort?

A few years ago, the still loss-making Plus appeared to be in deep trouble. New management was drafted in and a rescue cash-call, backed by a number of City stockbrokers, undertaken. Simon Brickles became chief executive. Ironically, he is a former head of AIM. Subsequently, a cash top-up was required.

Shares of both the LSE and Plus are well below their peaks. The LSE, as I write, is 834.5p against a near 1900p high and Plus is 12.25p compared with 38p. Real and imagined take over action inflated them with the LSE surviving a US assault and Plus getting caught in the American bidding slipstream.

The performance of the two shares is, however, an indication of the distress afflicting the investment world. Footsie is, in effect, an index of two halves. It would be much lower if it were shorn of high-flying mining and oil stocks. The LSE and Plus have been caught in the turmoil that has devastated such stock market sectors as banking, building and retailing.

Mears has experienced an active time since joining the portfolio. Profits this year should top £20m against £15.5m. Indeed at this month's shareholders' meeting, it was made clear that the group's performance was on target and new contracts were being obtained. In recent months, its social housing division has won deals worth nearly £140m and the home care side has attracted assignments valued at £4m annually. Few businesses are recession proof, but as I said when recruiting Mears it looks a good bet to weather the expected economic storms.

Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trade Desk Specialist (Linux, Windows, FIX, Finance, Networks)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (Linux, Windows, FIX...

    Associate CXL Consultant

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

    Project Manager - ETRM/CTRM

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + Job Satisfaction: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...

    C#.NET Developer

    £300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL,MVVM, SOA...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform